Saturday, March 7, 2009

the beginning of this life

Three years ago at this time my life had hit bottom. Not rock-bottom, cause I'd definitely been lower .... but bottom nonetheless.

I had finally quit Taco Johns (a job that I worked for 4 1/2 years and that was sucking the life right out of me) and was ready to pursue other avenues. I had finished two years of college and had an Associates of Art in Liberal Arts (a transfer degree according to the diploma) and was taking some time off to figure out what I wanted from life. I was involved in a really great Bible study that helped solidify my desire to be involved in ministry. I had found a ministry that I thought was the avenue God wanted me to pursue and was getting ready to go.

Then, family issues came rushing to the forefront (originating with my desire to go to northern Minnesota and serve with a ministry there). I ended up in counseling (which, quite honestly, was one of the best things that ever happened to me and I am such a better person today for it!). Against my father's wishes I went north and then was asked to go home two weeks later. I was devastated.

I ended up working a dead-end job for a local catalog company. I moved in with my former pastor and his wife, to work with the two developmentally disabled guys that were living with them. I thought that God was asking me to live in Fergus Falls for a couple of years and I was slowly adjusting to that.

Then, I went to talk to Sherri one day (my counselor). She asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I was blown away by that question. I am the youngest of three and the only girl. My family is great, but they are not afraid to make plans for my life and let me know what I should do. I had gotten to the point where I could hardly make a decision for myself and wanted to please them all.

I could hardly even express what was in my heart, but slowly I was able to get out the fact that I felt called into the ministry. We talked about the different needs and where I wanted to end up. I walked away from that conversation knowing that God had a plan for my life and what the next step was.

That night I went home and Googled "Christian Camps in Montana."

Why Christian camps? Well, after discussing a lot of different ministry opportunities, I knew that I was not ready for overseas missions. I also didn't think I was qualified to work for a church. It was summer time and camping season was happening then. Also, I had spent two weeks in previous summers as a camp counselor, so obviously, it is what made sense. I think we might have talked about me maybe applying for summer staff the next summer, but patience isn't exactly my strong suit ...

Why Montana? Well, I had visited here a couple of times when I was younger and, of course, totally fell in love with the mountains. Also, I grew up on a farm and was totally into horses when I was younger. I still enjoy horses and the idea of that type of lifestyle. Sherri and I talked about how I would probably enjoy a setting in Texas or Montana more than in a city ...

Add them together and there ya go!

So, I found a site that listed all the different Christian camps in Montana and I went down the list. First I visited their website and tried to figure out if they needed anyone on full-time staff. Then, if I liked the way they looked, I sent them an email.

Most of those emails never got a response. Actually, all those emails except for one never got a response. But that one? Well, that reply came in the very next day. It just so happened that they were looking for an administrative assistant (and had been for two years).

Now there is something you need to understand about the reply that I got. This was not the top camp on my list. In fact, I really debated about whether or not I should email them. They weren't in the mountains and it was a support based position. However, God would not let me pass them by.

So, I took the information that Pat emailed me and prayed about it for a weekend. I got more and more excited and called her early the next week. We talked about it for awhile and then it was decided that I needed to come out to see it. So, I finagled my work schedule and got time off so I could come out on a Thurs-Sun to see what this whole camp thing was about.

I told my parents (well, my mom and I think she told my dad ...) and my three best friends where I was going. My two jobs didn't know why I took the time off (even the people I lived with had no idea) and no one else had a clue. I hopped in my car and drove the 500 miles to get here.

I spent a great couple of days at camp, talking to the bosses and connecting with the other staff members. I was overwhelmed with everything that was happening, but as time went on, we all became more and more sure that this was an avenue worth pursuing. No one had any red flags (which is unusual) and so, basically, the job was mine. All I had to do was fill out an application (cause yes, I totally went out there without an application or resume. whoops!).

I went home and started telling people. I gave two weeks notice to my jobs and wrote a letter to people telling them what I was going to do. I lined up two speaking engagements (cause I WAS going to be a missionary after all) and packed up my car. 6 weeks after I first heard about Trail's End Ranch, I was here.

I had no constant support, no idea of what I was getting myself into and no one I knew. 2 1/2 years later, I have a semblance of support (and never, ever go short!), have a fair idea of what I'm doing (except this is camp, so nothing is ever the same!), and have made life-changing, life-long friendships.

this is life!

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